5 New Orleans Public Library Branches Open On Sundays

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Several public libraries in New Orleans will open on Sunday.

         Five branches — the Algiers Regional Library, the East New Orleans Regional Library, the Main Library, the Norman Mayer Library and the Robert E. Smith Library — welcomed patrons on Sunday for the first time since the library system began operating 120 years ago.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Jessica Williams reports it's the most immediate result of a 25-year property tax voters approved in May that will raise a projected $8.25 million a year. That's on top of the library's existing tax, which generates about $9.5 million annually and will expire in 2021.

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         Library officials said that without the new money, expanded operating hours would have been out of the question, and half of the library's 14 branches might have had to shut down.

         The cash-strapped libraries have been financed in recent years through the old millage and a reserve account accumulated when many of the branches were closed after Hurricane Katrina. But that reserve would have run out midway through this year, leaving the library in the red.

         With the new cash, six branches will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The rest will follow the same schedule, except they will be closed on Sundays.

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         The sixth branch serving patrons on Sundays will be the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, the only library that was open on Sundays last year. It has been closed in recent months for renovations, but it will follow the seven-day schedule when it reopens in the spring.

         The only library open on Fridays last year was the Martin Luther King Library. Most other branches were open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

         The extended hours are "one of the things people really wanted to see happen," library system Executive Director Charles Brown said.

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